Force Protection Battlelab activates at Lackland

Released: Jun 19, 1997

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Nineteen airmen were killed last June when terrorists ignited a truck bomb at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. The bombing accelerated ongoing Air Force efforts to protect its forces operating around the globe and gave the entire Department of Defense new insights into the operating methods of world terrorist organizations.

In November, the chief of staff of the Air Force directed implementation of Air Force protection actions.

The Force Protection Battlelab was implemented to identify innovative concepts to protect Air Force people, facilities and weapon systems from terrorism and other tactical threats.

Maj. Gen. George Stringer, Air Force deputy assistant secretary (budget), will activate the Force Protection Battlelab here 11 a.m., June 23.

The mission of the battlelab is to explore and integrate technology, tactics and training to increase force protection readiness.

"The battlelab was triggered by Khobar Towers," said Lt. Col. Donal Collins, the battlelab's commander. "The closer we looked at Khobar the clearer it became -- we're facing a new and different threat."

To defeat that threat, the battlelab will use innovative ideas to bring about systemic changes in the force protection business.

Dedicated to help the Air Force stay one step ahead of the terrorist threat, the battlelab will work hand-in-hand with industry, other battlelabs and the other services to test a variety of concepts and get them to the troops in the field quickly. Some testing will be done through modeling and simulation and then inserted into exercises.

An example of the type of initiative the Force Protection Battlelab will be looking at is using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to detect the threat and defeat it.

"If we can detect the vehicle laden with explosives a long way out -- and can stop it -- we stand a better chance of preventing another Khobar Towers," said Collins.

The battlelab will be manned by 25 people from security forces, intelligence, office of special investigation, civil engineering, communications, flying, medical and contracting specialties.

"Our folks will examine every conceivable issue relating to force protection, from blast protection, detection, imaging, biological agents, communications, training, doctrine and more," Collins added.

The Force Protection Battlelab is the second of three security forces organizations established at Lackland. In March, the first organization -- the 820th Security Forces Group -- was activated. Its mission is to provide a highly trained, cohesive unit to perform force protection for Air Force resources and personnel in deployed locations. The third organization, the Security Forces Agency from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., moves to Lackland in October, joining other Air Force security forces Air Staff functions and becomes the Air Force Security Forces Center.

Lackland is the ideal site to collocate the battlelab, 820th Security Forces, Group, and Security Forces Center, said Coleman, since other security elements are already here. Lackland's 343rd Training Squadron provides joint law enforcement training, and the 341st Training Squadron trains all military working dogs and handlers for the Department of Defense. Also, the location allows utilization of and close coordination with the intelligence operations and programs at the Air Intelligence Agency at nearby Kelly AFB.